Life term to Armymen in fake encounter unconfirmed

The Indian Army has not yet completed the summary general court martial proceedings against five Army men, whom it found guilty in the 2010 Machil fake encounter case and sentenced to the life imprisonment.

As per the Army Act, 1950, the recommendations of a summary general court martial have to be confirmed by the appropriate authority, which in this case is Lt Gen D S Hooda, the Commander in Chief of the Army’s Northern Command.

“Lt Gen Hooda is yet to confirm the sentencing. The process is not complete,” said an officer. Five men of the 4 Rajputana Rifles, including commanding officer Col Dinesh Pathania and his mates Capt Upendra Singh, Havilder Devinder, Lancenaik Lakhmi and Lancenaik Arun Kumar, were found guilty in the court martial, headed by a Brigadier-rank officer, who recommended life imprisonment for all of them.

They were guilty of killing three innocent men in a 2010 Jammu and Kashmir fake encounter and trying to cover it up by claiming the victims were Pakistani militants. The case came under the Army’s jurisdiction in the middle of 2012 and legal processes took two years to finish, including collecting the evidence and the trial. Once the recommended punishment is confirmed by the Northern Army Commander, the guilty men can exercise their legal right to appeal, first in the Armed Forces Tribunal and secondly in the Supreme Court. Other punishments like cashiering (stripping off the ranks) or withdrawal of pension benefits could not be implemented till the completion of legal process.

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